The Virginia Wrage Memorial Fund provides scholarships to deserving women in the Santa Clarita Valley

2023 Virginia Wrage Scholarship Recipients

Virginia Wrage Scholarship winners - Angie Mata; Julie; Arpy Asmarian; Amber Yarbrough


Arpy Asmarian

Arpy fled Syria during the war with her family. They lost all of their property, their freedom, and at times their dignity as humans. It was hard for them to start a new life in another country. In 2014, she came to the United States with only one bag. She faced a lot of obstacles because of her lack of English language and computer skills wherever she applied for a job.

Arpy has a degree in Interior Design from her home county, but needs to go back to college to gain more knowledge to enable her to get a job here in the US. Going from a life-altering experience such as war to having no choice but to apply for college to learn English and basic computer skills relates to her desire to lead a better life.

She says, “This scholarship not only will educate me about essential elements of the history of women and what they can accomplish, but it can help me become an independent woman who can support her family financially while also helping other people in the community.

“My academic goal is to transfer to Woodbury University to enhance my Interior Design career.  My mission in the future is to think positively to influence the lives of all customers who I will have the pleasure of working with.  I aspire to leave a lasting impression on their minds and imagination; my designs must inspire and elevate the hearts and minds of all those lay eyes on my designs.”

Angie Mata

Angie’s academic goal is to learn more about a topic that she is passionate about while proving to herself that she is worthy, capable, and deserving of going after her dreams. She has also made it a personal goal to do well in her classes so that she can complete them with the best possible grade.

“For the first time in my life, I am proud to say that I care about my grades, have good grades, and am pursuing my goals. I plan to obtain an AA-T in Psychology at COC and transfer to either California State University, Northridge (CSUN) for a BA in Psychology, or the University of Massachusetts Global through the College of the Canyons University Center. My dream and ultimate career goal is to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, which requires me to eventually get into a graduate program to obtain a master’s degree in Psychology.

“During this process, I am focusing on enjoying my academic journey and taking it one step at a time. I feel that my academic goals directly contribute to and affect my focus, motivation, and mindset. It is important to me that I remind myself of my goals often because they serve as a tool to not only help me stay on track but also as a reminder and testament to my perseverance and grit. I am passionate about psychology and believe everyone is worthy, valued, and has a purpose in life. I believe my purpose is to help people find their purpose, see their value, understand their worth, and help them find the beacon of light in dark or challenging times.”


Julie has had several significant life-altering experiences in her young life.  Her daughter was born prematurely in 2014, staying in NICU for two months.  Eventually, her vision was affected and she is legally blind.  Her mother died in 2017 while visiting with Julie. It was so traumatic to her that she decided to understand more about the grieving process.  This led her to pursue psychology.  She was excited with the possibilities of applying what she learned to a career.

Her father died in 2019 and in 2020 her marriage came to an end.  Now she needed to reconsider a new game plan for herself and 8-year-old daughter.

Julie says, “Throughout my life, I have had opportunities to embark on a conventional career and climb the corporate ladder, but every time these chances present themselves, unfortunate events happen.  I always believe that when the people I love and care most are happy, it will make me happy as well.  It is because we need to experience happiness and contentment primarily so we can share with the people around us.

“Now I have love, faith and hope that at this time, I can pursue an AA degree in Child Development.  I want to ensure that kids will be guided during their formative years.  I desire to become part of raising resilient and emotionally strong kids by working in a school setting.”

Amber Yarbrough

Amber is a domestic violence survivor and proud mother of two sons.   She moved to Santa Clarita for her family’s safety.  She lost her job during COVID because she had to stay home to help with her sons online learning during the school closure.  She realized that without a college degree she was having a difficult time supporting herself and sons.  She wants to set a good example for her children and the importance of education.

She is a Humanities major and has one semester left at COC. She will then transfer to CSUN to pursue a degree in Education. Her goal is to teach English courses at the high school or community college level.

“When I was in high school, I began tutoring elementary school children.  Starting over after domestic violence was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Now that I am raising two children on my own, I realize how important it is to follow and pursue a career that I am passionate about.  I that know that teaching is an important field and I am excited to pursue my education so I can help others achieve their goals.”

Want to help more women change their lives?

Virginia Wrage (620 x 330 px)

Virginia Wrage was a dedicated and loved Zontian, mother, and grandmother who, at the age of 50, faced a family crisis that resulted in a major career change for her. Virginia applied for, and after a rigorous nine-month course, fulfilled a childhood dream of becoming a flight attendant for American Airlines.

Two years later, Virginia was diagnosed with cancer. Before her death, she helped plan a fund that would assist other mature women through challenges such as those she faced.

Since its inception in 1995, the Virginia Wrage Memorial Fund has aided more than 50 women with scholarships ranging from $500 to $3000.

Many recipients are returning to school at mid-life to be able to support themselves and their children. Some are victims of domestic abuse. Some are single mothers. Some are struggling to complete G.E.D.s or college degrees. Some are on the verge of becoming homeless. All are facing a difficult life challenge.

Each year, the Virginia Wrage Memorial Fund provides scholarships to deserving women in the Santa Clarita Valley community. The members of Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley are honored to be able to assist these women in the name of Virginia Wrage.

What Recipients Have Said:

"My dream is to use my gifts and talents to encourage, stimulate and motivate a thinking society."

"Every woman needs support and you are a tremendous blessing to each of us."

"My dreams include philanthropy and to support those in need and to give back in appreciation for what I have been so fortunate to receive."

"Thank you for seeing in me an example of the woman that Ms. Wrage wished to support."

"It was a big inspiration that someone believed in me when I was having a hard time believing in myself."

"Definitely, receiving this money and reading your letter empower and motivate me to keep going. You let me know that it is worth the effort and that it is valued."

"It's overwhelming to be back in the workforce at 48, but it's more common than I ever realized.  Thanks to this grant, I believe I'll do better than just survive."

"I'm a UCLA Graduate.  I never anticipated going into hiding, food stamps and homelessness"

"It was darn hard, with six kids.  But I want my kids to know that you have to go get what you want.  It's not going to come to you."

"You are a wonderful support emotionally, and I hope to make you proud."

Oh my goodness!!! Thank you so much and a million times over! I can't wait to share the news with my family. I am filled with gratitude. 

I can't thank the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita enough for this opportunity. The news made me cry, a good cry.